Formula 1 arrives in the United States, the 17th stage of the championship, on fire, after four changes in the lead over the last six races, and is very likely to be the site of Austin’s fifth change. That’s because Max Verstappen is leading six points ahead of Lewis Hamilton, but it’s the Englishman’s Mercedes that has the best record on the American circuit, and is heading into the final stages.
It is known that Mercedes had chosen to do just one major update to the car at the Great Britain GP in July months earlier, while Verstappen’s Red Bull had prioritized bringing new parts to several races, leading to a full year ahead. development was carried forward. First chance to fight directly for the title since 2013.
Since Silverstone, a number of factors have made it difficult to understand whether Mercedes has really been able to improve its car with the Silverstone upgrade, which came after a three-win streak by Verstappen. After the British stage, first Red Bull failed to fix it in Hungary, then came an unusual weekend in Belgium due to weather conditions, followed by a Verstappen-dominated GP in Holland, a race in which Mercedes failed, on its own. Failed to convert display. Results in Italy and Hamilton’s victory in Russia. To top it all, on these last two circuits, Mercedes expected to be better.
Until the Turkish GP arrived, in which more equal performance between the two cars was expected, and Mercedes was better again. According to Red Bull, this will have to do with improvements to Mercedes’ power unit, but data on the growth of the German car in relation to the rest of the grid (including other teams using the same engine and that, as a rule) , They will have the same updates available which, by the way, are quite restricted) indicates that it is more understanding of the Silverstone update that could be causing the difference.
Compared to performances in the classification before the GP in Great Britain and so far from Silverstone, Mercedes has gained even more ground in relation to teams such as Ferrari, Alpine and even McLaren, which have gained ties to Red Bull. I have won the race since then. This indicates that the rivals’ performances in the fight for the championship are continuing to improve, but Hamilton’s team is becoming more efficient in this regard.
That’s why Austin is an interesting bullshit. It is a track on which Mercedes has been better in recent years, but for which the Red Bull car has reasons to be well suited, as the level of aerodynamic pressure used is moderate, and the asphalt undulating, characteristic Is. Where Mercedes’ suspension tends to suffer the most. And the temperatures will be even higher, at the same level as the June race, in which Verstappen did well, and Zandvoort.
The impression one gets from Red Bull after the set-up difficulties in Turkey is that they don’t understand the car as well as they used to. Another point to note is that, since late July, it has rained at some point in the race, or there is an unexpected change in the level of grip and, in these situations, Mercedes, which has moved the car less since At the beginning of the year, it has the tools to respond better as it tried to understand rather than constantly updating its devices.
In favor of the seven-time champion, although Red Bull says its rivals’ power unit has been improved, there are doubts about its reliability, which has drawn Mercedes’ performance advantage here from Silverstone and also passed on to customers Is.
The United States GP is on this weekend, with free practice being held from 1:30 pm and 5:00 pm, Brasilia time. There will be five races left in the championship after the Austin stage.